By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
Vocal Northern elder and former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, believes reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and disarmament will end banditry in Nigeria.
He also acknowledged that the marauding herdsmen in the bushes across Nigeria are Nigerians in flesh and blood.
Speaking on Wednesday on African Independent Television (AIT) breakfast programme Kakaaki on the topic; ‘Insecurity: Ending Banditry in Nigeria’, Yusuf insists that the Fulani inside the bushes in Nigeria are Nigerians.
Said he: “Fulani we saw in the forests are ours. They are our Fulanis. Our flesh and blood. Fulani bandits we saw are Nigerian Fulanis. They are ours”.
Asked repeatedly by the AIT Anchors if he is sure of what he was saying, the Professor answered thus: “When Yorubas say they are ours they mean that Yorubas in Nigeria only. I am saying the Fulanis we saw in the forests are ours. They are our own Fulanis”.
He said there are Fulanis everywhere in Nigeria and across Africa and the world and lamented on the maltreatment of the Fulani herders whom he said are presently having more challenges because the grazing reserves and grazing routes have been taken over or blocked by human activities due to population explosion.
On how he and other citizens has been navigating about meeting with the bandits in the forests to dialogue with them to release some of their abductees including the Greenfield University students in Kaduna, Yusuf said it is a herculean task but a necessary venture to save lives.
According to him: “bandits only listen to Clerics. All over the world, bandits listen to Clerics like Sheikh (Ahmed) Gumi. This is why Sheikh has been doing his best to go to bandits dens to speak to them.
And in the Sheikh’s wisdom he has involved former President Olusegun Obasanjo”.
The ex- NHIS boss also said the combination of both personalities has given rise to what he called “Gumi and Obasanjo Magic”, saying that; “Sheikh Gumi and President Obasanjo’s initiative brought back Afaka 27 without shots fired, no ransom paid, no prisoners exchanged”.
On why Sheikh Gumi involved Obasanjo in the recent negotiation and release of Afaka 27, he said: “Sheikh Gumi went to see Obasanjo because of his past and present involvement in peace mission across the world since the apartheid South Africa, Namibia and Angola and recently in South Sudan and Ethiopia-Tigray conflicts”.
Meanwhile, Yusuf has said the implementation of Reconciliation, Reparations, Rehabilitation and
Disarmament (3R D) will bring back peace in the land, arguing that “if these four things are not done and quickly too, peace will not return to the Nigeria”.
Said he: “there are injustice everywhere and those guys in the forests feel have been neglected for so long hence they turned against the state”.
On the protection of schools across Nigeria over insecurity, he said “no school in Nigeria is safe from bandits and terrorists attacks . Nothing has been done by governments at all levels have done anything to protect our schools in Nigeria “.
He however stated that the military has a role but there is no military solutions to the insecurity in Nigeria
Yusuf argued that insecurity is local and can only be solved locally. Reconciliation and solutions are local.